I was reading the article Seven Reasons to “Go to the Tape” in ASCD and I decided to blog about how I positively changed my concern about being in front of the camera and what it did to improve my classroom practice.
The article discusses that coaches are using state of the art video equipment but teachers are “still discussing whether video is really useful, how we don’t like to see ourselves on video, and the evils of the ‘big brother’ syndrome”. This is the same conversation that I heard fifteen years ago. I’m not sure it will ever change. The seven points made in the article are all excellent:
- Use video to build a portfolio,
- Video provides teachers with an objective record of their classroom,
- It can be replayed
- It is not susceptible to selective memory
- It provides teachers with the resource for evidence-based reflection
- Video provides the opportunity to use real classroom data to support teacher growth,
- Video can be used to learn new instructional strategies,
- Video can provide opportunity for professional learning communities to collaborate,
- Expert videos can anchor school-based professional developments
- Video provides principals with objective information on the skills of the teacher.
Many suggestions are still similar to what was said to me as a classroom teacher years ago. I appreciated what coaches were doing and wanted my science students to experience success in the science classroom in the same way they were experiencing athletic successes.
As a classroom teacher everything I did revolved around creating opportunities for my students to achieve mastery. An added side benefit was the accumulation of these strategies improved my abilities as a teacher. Successful student presentations were an important part of what I wanted for students but initially they were boring for all of us. I worked hard on improving the process. I set time limits that became shorter and shorter. I created rubrics that became more and more specific as well as more and more student centered. Students helped in making the decisions around what to include in the rubric and how much each item should be weighted in determining the score for the completed product.
My AHA moment came after a discussion with another teacher where she mentioned letting students use the video camera to practice before presenting. This initially became the ‘fall on your face’ opportunity for each child or group of children presenting. Students signed up to use the camera for 15 minute segments and then used the video playback system for 30 minutes to discuss needed adjustments. I never saw the ‘fall on your face’ videos except by student request and all were erased. Presentations became pleasant experiences for all of us and the process grew and grew. Video cameras were donated, students recorded final products after the ‘fall on your face’ opportunity primarily because the quality grew exponentially, and everyone agreed that the final products could be used as demos to help and encourage other students.
Once I observed how comfortable being in front of the camera was for my students my fears and concerns melted away. A camera eventually videotaped many of my lessons for students to watch if absent or review if needed. I became a better teacher as I watched my classroom lessons on tape and shared them with other teachers in my building.
I am sure that with the video access we have today, this is such an easy way to encourage students to improve on their final products, that it is happening out there all over the place. I wish I was seeing it happen.